It was a night of interesting choices.
The Forest fans in the away end were in fine voice throughout, providing a level of entertainment that the game itself unfortunately could not. But I did have to wonder whether the rendition of 'God Save the Queen' hit the Welsh fans as hard as it was intended to. It was an interesting choice.
Dougie Freedman's team selection was interesting - rotation was always likely given the festive fixture congestion, but - in front of an unchanged goalkeeper and back four - there were six changes from the team which started against Leeds. Some unexpected choices. Nevertheless, the end of the world was not quite as close as Twitter would have led you to believe pre-match, and I personally was looking forward to seeing the impact of Oliver Burke and Jonny Williams. Add Liam Trotter into that list, and you have to ask - was Dougie Freedman treating this as some sort of trial match; are Trotter and Williams worthy of loan extensions, and is Burke ready for the first team?
Burke was a resounding yes, cutting inside his man early on and making the finish with the outside of his right foot look far simpler than it was. Couple this with the wonderful technique to hit the post against Leeds, and I suspect he will have many keepers diving despairingly to their right in the future. Dougie appears to be delivering on his promise to bring through youth players at Forest.
Words can't describe! What dreams are made of! So happy to score my first senior goal thanks for all messages #nffc— Oliver Burke (@OliverBurke55) December 29, 2015
Trotter and Williams - I'm not so sure. Trotter did little wrong, but we now have options in his position. Williams is a player even the Welsh fans are willing towards success, but he still looks a little lightweight and you struggle to see how Dougie will accommodate him in the second half of the season. There are probably higher priorities for limited loan positions. I'm sad to admit that, because Williams was the player I was most excited about on transfer deadline day.
The rest of the game - well the 'trial' theme probably sums it up - felt much like a pre-season match. Pre-season lack of fitness probably replaced by fatigue for a number of players in a busy schedule, and it was hardly an advert for Championship football. Forest could not feel hard done by when Aron Gunnarsson equalised for Cardiff, even if it was aided by a significant deflection. More worryingly, Cardiff's goal came from a similar area to Sam Byram's on Sunday, and you do have to wonder whether the space afforded in that area is some sort of Forest tactic, or whether opponents have spotted it as a weakness? Indeed, Gunnarsson's goal was not the only effort Cardiff tried from in and around that area.
Nelson Oliveira could (should?) have won it for Forest in injury time, but a draw was probably a fair result.
Freedman was quoted in the press after the Leeds game as saying that we'd be better against Cardiff and that we'd win. I was convinced pre-match that I'd be writing a report about Freedman being a man of his word. (I still trust Freedman by the way, in spite of this). The draw has since given me much to ponder in terms of the theme of this report - I hope I've made the right choice.
Gareth is one of the heroic souls who travelled to Cardiff. Follow him here - he deserves it.